De Juiste -Z- 1 – De Stukkenjagers 4

Het vierde ging met 6-2 onderuit in het Zuid-Limburgse Reijmerstok. Lichtpunten waren de bordzeges van Thomas Kaufmann en Tsz Keung Wong. Laatstgenoemde maakte een uitvoerige analyse van zijn partij.

SJ-1500-player winning against an 1800-player in a seemingly drawn endgame position

The following annotated game is from my game for SJ 4 on Saturday. Before the game I did not know that my opponent was higher rated than me by around 300 points. I was hoping for the best, and I did come out on top. I am sharing the game here to brag about it and want to share some endgame knowledge.

I will give comments on the important moves, and I ask you to assess the position at each diagram position and find the best move or a strategy plan. My reason for the moves might be wrong since I am only a small 1500 potato. Without further ado let’s get into the game.

Tsz Keung Wong – Roy Kluten

1. c4 e6 2. Nc3 d5 3. d3 Nf6 4. e4 dxe4 5. Nxe4 Nxe4 6. dxe4 Qxd1+ 7. Kxd1 Nc6 8. Be3 e5 9. Ne2 Be7 10. Nc3 Be6 11. a3 Nd4 12. Bxd4 O-O-O 13. Nd5 Bxd5

The opening was not really great, and there is nothing special about it, but it is extremely important to form a plan after Bxd5. Would you take with the c-pawn or the e-pawn?

14. cxd5 exd4

I was really happy with the position since after the capture, it is 5 against 3 in the kingside with two middle passed pawns. I knew that I was winning, even though the material position is equal. What I need to do is to solidly build up and improve my position to materialize my advantages. Important would be control of the c-file and perhaps the open file if the queenside will be opened. It is also important to restrict the black bishop.
The reason of the following move is clear. I want to stop the dark bishop coming to g5 in one move controlling the important squares and diagonal. Also, I want to gain space and slow down the expansion by black on the kingside.

15. h4 f5 16. f3 fxe4 17. fxe4 Bd6 18. Be2 Rde8 19. Bf3 Bf4

What move would you play?

My next move might seem odd, but it does three things. There are three indirect threats, swinging the rook to the queenside to attack the weaknesses, or Rg3 to enter the g-file to attack in case the bishop goes away. Lastly, if d4-d3 then Bg4* winning the pawn.

20. Rh3  Kd7 21. Kc2 Rhf8 22. Kd3 Be3 23. h5 Kd6 24. b4 Ke5 25. Ra2 Re7 26. Rc2 Rf6 27. Rh1 Rb6 28. Rb1 Ra6 29. Ra1 Rb6 30. Rb1 Ra6 31. Rb3

I made an inaccurate move here, the rook became so inactive on this square. What should black do to exploit my mistake?

31… g5

Good move, it is his one of the really last chances in the whole game to fight for counterplay and initiative. g7-g6 is equally good. If you look at the game closely, you will see the black rook is badly placed on the 6th rank and both black rooks are restricted to protected the pawns, whereas my rooks have more mobility and they are more active. I shall quote two endgame theories from Capablanca (Chess Fundamentals) here, which we should keep in mind when we are playing endgame:

* Keep harassing the enemy; force him to use his big pieces to defend pawns. If he has a weak point, try to make it weaker or create another weakness somewhere else and his position will collapse sooner or later, If he has a weakness, and he can get rid of it, make sure that you create another somewhere else.

* The best way to defend such position is to assume the initiative and keep the opponent on the defensive.

What should you do to stop black’s plan of opening the kingside and gaining some active play?

32. Bg4

Yes! Bg4, it might seem wrong in a sense that moving the bishop to f5 eventually and placing all the pawns on the same color as the bishop are bad. The game will then be draw theoretically because of the opposite colors of the bishops, with the pawns on the same color as the bishop for both of us.

But in the long run, I will be the only one who can decide whether the f-file is opened or not! It is the key idea for winning this game. Moreover, I fixed a weakness on h7 or h6.

32… Kf4 33. Bf5 h6 34. g4 Ke5 35. b5 Rb6 36. a4 a5 37. Rc4 Kd6 38. Rb2 Bf4 39. Rbc2 Be5 40. Rf2

This is the crucial position in the game, if you find the right plan here: congrats! I did not find it immediately on the board. See the answer from the note for move 42.

 40… Rf7 41. Rf1 Ke7 42. Rc2

I ask you again to think about what the plan in this position is? Here is the answer, I felt like being a master when I noticed this:
(1) Controlling the f-file would be decisive.
(2) 7th rank is an important rank, if I can somehow remove his rook from this rank and/or place my rook on 7th magically, I can attack c6 more effectively.
(3) As such f7 is an extremely important square, if I conquer that square then I will win the game.

(4) The bishop on e5 is not protected, and it cannot be projected by the rook without giving up the control of f7.

With all this the plan is the following: I have to play Be6 to control f7 when the rook is not around. Attacking the bishop on e5, so that black has to occupy d6 to protect it. Thus, the rook on b6 will be useless if it remains there.

42… Rbf6 43. Rb1 Kd8 44. Rc5 Rb6 45. Rbc1 Re7 46. R1c2 Bd6 47. R5c4 Be5

Luckily for me, my opponent did not see this key idea of the position. The rest needs no further comments.   

48. Be6 Rg7 49. Rf2 Ke7 50. Rf5 Kd6 51. Rc2 Rh7 52. Rc1 Rh8 53. Rf7 c6 54. Rd7#

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